When I worked out of town, I would send either cards or letters home to my wife. How do people know what your real feelings are unless you tell them and show them.
A.R. Gurney wrote more than forty plays, the most popular being The Dining Room and The Cocktail Hour. He began in college and continued while he was in the Navy, producing plays to entertain fellow sailors on an aircraft carrier. Out of the service he enrolled at the Yale School of Drama, and put together a musical entitled Love in Buffalo featuring Dick Cavett.
His two person play Love Letters, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Two person plays are ideal productions for regional theatres. Usually the sets are minimal and using only two actors generally saves time and money. Successful two-person plays include 88 Charing Cross Road, which Peg and I first saw at St. Leo’s school when it was used for early Tacoma Actors Guild productions. We loved it. The last two person production we saw was Dear Liar, a staged reading at Tacoma Little Theatre featuring our long time friend Tim Hoban and Casi Pruitt. They did a fantastic job.
A.R. Gurney’s two person play, Love Letters, is much like 88 Charing Cross Road and Dear Liar. The story and the action is mostly mental as we listen to loves and lives unfold.
It’s interesting that Lakewood Playhouse is presenting this play as their first production of the post-pandemic period. The play features John Munn, managing artistic directory of Lakewood Playhouse and Shannon Burch, whom we’ve seen at CenterStage in Federal Way and Lakewood Playhouse. In May two-time Tony winner Bryan Cranston and two-time Oscar winner Sally Field starred in a one-night-only reading of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters on Broadway. Ticket sales benefited the Actors Fund.
I’ve loved the work of Bryan Cranston for years (especially his portrayal of Dalton Trumbo in the film “Trumbo”), but . . . let’s face it, he’s no John Munn. When John played the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance he won our hearts.
“When Andrew Makepeace Ladd III accepts an invitation to Melissa Gardner’s birthday party, and Melissa writes a thank-you note to ask just why he got her “The Lost Princess of Oz” (answer: she looks like a lost princess), a romantic friendship and correspondence destined to last for almost half a century is born. Both from affluent, East Coast families — Melissa has more money, but Andy has better parents — the friends communicate with each other through angst-ridden boarding school experiences, European adventures, failed marriages, and the ups and downs of career. Over the course of their lives, Andy and Melissa’s relationship goes through many changes, as the sometimes-sweethearts/sometimes-friends go through periods of estrangement, and the intense, clandestine affair which will accelerate Melissa’s emotional breakdown. Despite the painful differences which will ultimately tear them apart, they remain each other’s most trusted confidante, and are “true lovers” on paper, if not on the earth. A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters is a tender, tragi-comic, and nuanced examination of the shared nostalgia, missed opportunities, and deep closeness of two lifelong, complicated friends. While spanning five decades and numerous locations, it is staged simply, with two actors behind desks or sitting in cozy chairs, letting their words describe a world of emotion.” – stageagent.com/shows/play/6753/love-letters
Love Letters has been translated into 24 languages for productions in more than 40 countries.
The available dates at Lakewood Playhouse for Love Letters is still a moving target, but tickets can be reserved. Seating is limited due to social distancing, but people have been starved for live theatre for months.
Tickets go on sale June 22: lakewoodplayhouse.org/